90% of depression is “transitory”. It comes and goes. Bad events such as loss of a loved one, bullying, failure, rejection and accident can trigger an episode of depression that could last for days, weeks or years. But chances are it will pass.
Our medical establishment is currently all too anxious to prescribe anti-depression drugs at any suggestion of depression. In fact, over 70% of all prescriptions for the drugs are made by non-psychiatric practitioners – without a diagnosis of pathology.
The pills work for most of us – the depression lifts. But then we never stop taking them. Often other drugs are added to get the right “mix”. We willingly acquiesce to a lifetime of dangerous chemical tinkering. The potential side-effects are frightening.
If you or a child or loved one is struggling with transitory, unipolar (not bipolar) depression, then you would be well advised to consider drug free solutions before taking the medication path.
SOLUTIONS FROM SCIENCE: SKILLS, NOT PILLS
Positive Psychology is a movement which revolutionized the mental heath industry beginning in the 1990’s. In 1996, Dr. Martin Seligman was elected to the presidency of the American Psychological Association by a wide margin. He had “cracked the code” with his work on learned helplessness. His work proved that “thought correction” exercises will improve many people’s outlook as effectively as drugs.
Dr. Seligman’s books include The Optimistic Child, Learned Optimism, Authentic Happiness and Flourish. All of these books are valuable reads. Probably the best choice to bring together the history and the concepts of Positive Psychology is Authentic Happiness (2002). It covers a lot of ground. Reader beware: this is a bit like going back to college, but well worth the journey.
Dr. Seligman is currently a professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. A website devoted to Positive Psychology is available for those who like to “test” themselves and learn to interpret the tests and also change themselves.
Learning the essentials of Positive Psychology equips the seeker with a toolbox and a set of skills to put to work in tough times. It promotes skills over pills.
The U. S. military uses Positive Psychology formulas in their training and rehabilitation programs. Major corporations keep their employees pumped up; private schools prepare their students to succeed in life; rehabilitation centers treating cancer and accident survivors prepare their clients to live with hope and even joy – all using the concepts and exercises developed by the cognitive psychology professionals.
These concepts are quite intuitive and easily put to work. They should be readily available to everyone.
For a rousing, faith based version of Positive Psychology try listening to Pastor Joel Osteen. He is a great motivational speaker. The pastor promotes a “thought correction” formula that mirrors the fundamentals of Positive Psychology. You don’t have to believe in God to get a boost from his messages. His is a Positive Theology. It is a big tent, uplifting force that desires a good outcome for everyone. He can be heard on various Sunday morning cable channels and on Sirius Radio 128.
KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE
For a short book summarizing the essentials of Positive Psychology try:
This book begins by breaking down Cognitive Psychology concepts such as “explanatory style” into easily understood flowcharts that the reader can get his/her arms around in a matter of hours. It is a “Cliff Notes” type presentation with a call to action.
Separate chapters discuss the remarkably similar suggestions of Pastor Osteen, who is the recognizable face of Positive Theology.
A life with goals is a life with hope – with purpose. Goals are a vision of the future that
can drive present action.
Positive Psychology has a formula that can empower the individual to formulate goals and believe in his power to achieve them.